Now that you’re engaged it’s time start wedding planning! The first thing you need to do before you can really begin doing anything else is to set a date and location. Below are the steps that Dan and I took when selecting a wedding date and location:
Step 1: Determine your budget, and who will be contributing. Make an estimate of how much you want to spend on things before you start looking at venues. Determine your venue/food budget before emailing venues to see if your date is available. You also need to figure out if your parents are contributing, your fiance’s parents, and how much you and your fiance can afford on your own.
Step 2: Select a Season/Time of Year. Do you want to get married in the fall, winter, spring, or summer? Take a look at your budget and see what best fits. Winter weddings (December-March) are often cheaper because those dates are less popular (considered “off months”), while May/June and September/October are the most popular months, so those tend to cost more. This is the time to also consider if there is a specific date you want to get married on such as your dating anniversary, the day you got engaged, etc.
Step 3: Determine the type of wedding you want. What kind of wedding do you and your fiance envision? Is there a certain place that is special to you? Do you want a destination wedding? Do you want a church wedding or do you want to get married on-site at the venue? Do you want a winery, beach, barn, city, etc? Take these types of things into account when you start looking at venues
Step 4: Research Venues. It’s important to do some preliminary research on wedding venues before you start reaching out to them. The last thing you want to do is email you dream venue only to find out that they are twice what you budgeted for! At this time you most likely have a rough idea of the amount of people you are going to invite, so keep that in mind while researching so you can reach out to places that can accommodate the size. The Knot is a really good resource for pricing, reviews, pictures, etc, and is mainly what I used when researching venues. I also looked at Wedding Wire and Pinterest!
Step 5: Gather information from venues: Once you’ve made a list of venues you’re interested in, it’s time to start emailing (or calling) them! I found email to be much easier because you have all the information laid out in front of you and it’s easier to keep organized. I kept a Google spreadsheet to keep things organized. On the spreadsheet I had columns for venue, address, contact person, max number of guests, pricing, and notes. It’s easier to compare venues with all of the information organized like that.
Step 6: Narrow your options and compare costs. Once you have information from all venues, sit down and see if there are any you can knock off right off the bat. Anything that’s too expensive or too small take off. Next, look at total costs for the remaining venues (or the ones you like best). Some have room rental, catering costs, table/chair rentals, etc, while others everything comes included. This where you will go back to your budget!
Step 7: Site Visit. After narrowing down your options, set up appointments to visit each venue. Bring your fiance, your mom, sisters, friends, whoever’s opinion you value. Take pictures and notes about what you like and don’t like.
Step 8: Put down a deposit! Originally, I went and looked at the place with my mom and sister and put a date on hold. The following week my fiance (he couldn’t make it the first time) came with his mom, and after I got their seal of approval we put a deposit down! Once you have this step done, it will be a huge weight off of your shoulders.
To pretty much everyone’s surprise, I let Dan pick our wedding date. I wasn’t really picky – I just knew I didn’t want a winter wedding (December-March). I would have preferred a spring/summer wedding, but Dan wanted a longer engagement and would not do July because it’s too hot for him to be in a suit. We also needed to work around my younger sister’s schedule. She plays Division I field hockey in Ohio, so it would be really hard for her to take a days off during the season for our wedding so we knocked off the months of August, September, October, and the first two weeks of November right off the bat. So that left April, May, June, July, and mid-late November. Out of all those months Dan really wanted November and we eventually agreed to a Thanksgiving wedding. We will be getting married November 23, 2018 – the day after Thanksgiving. My family is extremely important to me and Thanksgiving is the only holiday that everyone comes home for, so in the end it worked out because I know that the people most important to me will be there.
As for location, it wasn’t really that hard for me. I’m not super picky; in fact, I’m pretty indecisive about things and have a tendency to not know what I want, so I was probably going to go with a location that cost the least amount of money. With that being said, there was a venue that I really liked when I was researching venues but I didn’t want to admit it in case a) the date wasn’t available or b) it was out of my budget. I emailed about 17 venues total, some were too small, some were way outside my budget, but the one I really wanted ended up being extremely affordable, with the most food as well. I looked at pictures online and the room looked a little outdated but the venue was perfect for us. I made an appointment to visit and my jaw literally dropped when I walked into the ballroom that we would be using. They had just done a renovation this past January and the room was absolutely gorgeous. It was just what I wanted so I never went and looked anywhere else. I didn’t want the pressure to make a decision between two places I really liked (queen of indecisiveness, remember) and I knew deep down that this place was perfect for us. So on November 23, 2018 Dan and I will be getting married at the Crystal Point Yacht Club in Point Pleasant, NJ!
Coming up next in my Wedding Wednesday series, I have ideas for engagement party dresses, a quick recap of our engagement party, our engagement photos, and more! If you have any other wedding planning topics you want me to cover, please let me know in the comments!